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Night of the Vampire (2e)
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Night of the Vampire (2e)

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You are cordially invited to a masquerade celebrating the engagement of Lady Laina Vandevic to Lord Iajo Moubotka. Lord Gustav Vandevic welcomes you to his manor for an evening's entertainment. The servants are delighted to make your acquaintance - but watch out for the other guests! Intrigues within intrigues are afoot in Vandevicsny Manor. When a celebration becomes a night of terror, only the most cunning heroes will survive!

Audio components not included.

Product History

"Night of the Vampire" (1994), by Richard Baker, is the second adventure for the AD&D Mystara line. It was published in October 1994.

Origins (I): Return to Karameikos. "Night of the Vampire" is the immediate successor to "Hail the Heroes", just a few weeks later. Like its predecessor, it's an introductory adventure that supports Karameikos: Kingdom of Adventure (1994).

Origins (II): Enter the Vampire. Baker was given two simple directives for writing "Night of the Vampire". It needed to be a low-level adventure and it needed to include a vampire as the Big Bad. This pair of requirements created quite a design challenge, because the AD&D 2e vampire was an 8+3 HD monster that required magic to be hit. As Baker said, "low-level PCs would get absolutely killed by a vampire. Heck, they wouldn’t even have weapons that could hurt him, and every time he hit somebody, they’d probably die."

Baker solved the problem by filling the adventure with magic weapons that could be "borrowed" and including garlic and mirrors. He also provided suggestions to the GM for how the PCs could "grapple, tackle, and stake a vampire through sheer weight of numbers".

In keeping with the vampiric theming, Baker also included several NPCs who might be mistaken for the vampire.

Origins (III): Secrets of the Audio. "Night of the Vampire was the fourth release to include an Audio CD to support running adventures, following First Quest (1994), Karameikos: Kingdom of Adventure, and "Hail the Heroes". Baker has provided considerable inside info on how his CD was created, which probably reflects the process for the rest in the series as well.

The CDs were the product of TSR West, a department created around 1989 to be run by Flint Dille, the brother of TSR's latter-day president, Lorraine Williams. The Wisconsin TSR offices, where the adventures were being produced, had almost no input on the Californian TSR office's creation of the CDs. As Baker recounts, "we weren't even supposed to write the scripts for these things, although in practice, we created a sort of 'here's what needs to be in this script' script that the West Coast office used or didn’t use as the mood took them." TSR West then did all the voice casting and production with no feedback or approval from the actual game designers; they only got a final error check, to ensure that TSR West hadn't literally broken the adventure.

The results were sometimes hilarious. Baker recounts that for Night of the Vampire, he wrote a scene where the PCs captured some assassins and threatened them. Where Baker suggested the PCs say "Tell us who hired you, or we’ll put your head on a pole!", TSR West instead produced final copy where "one of the PCs demands, 'Tell us who hired you!' and another PC shouts, 'GET A POLE!'"

Audio Tropes. All of the Audio CD adventures walked the line between providing interesting audio clips to enhance the adventure and being overly intrusive
by telling the players what they were saying. Though "Hail the Heroes" had not provided audio clips for what the PCs were saying, "Night of the Vampire" reverts to that style; Baker says, "I just couldn’t see a way to cover 'random heroes talk to Lord Gustav' without having someone feed Lord Gustav conversational cues." Nonetheless, he didn't love the results, saying, "I felt bad about essentially putting lines in the players' mouths. I also wasn’t happy about the voice casting, or the fact that the PCs addressed each other by their class names — for example, 'Get a boat in the water, Thief!'" (The latter was a technique that had also appeared in some of the earlier Audio CD adventures, usually to the derision of fans.)

Otherwise, the audio clips are used in the standard manner for the series: individual encounters cue the GM to play the relavant clips.

Adventure Tropes. "Night of the Vampire" uses the classic shipwreck trope to get characters to their mysterious and scary adventure locale. The adventure is then laid out as a big sandbox, albeit with events such as a tournament, a dinner, and a masque, all leading up the climatic Night of the Vampire. It's a good compromise between the locale-based crawls of the '70s and the story-based adventures of the '90s, providing plenty of room for investigation and intrigue while still keeping the adventure moving along.

Exploring Mystara: Karameikos. Baker notes that he didn't know much about Mystara, but felt that he "didn’t have to do a ton of studying" because "Night of the Vampire" was so self-contained. Though there's nothing technically wrong with "Night of the Vampire", it's also not full of cool references like some of the other adventures of the era.

In any case, "Night of the Vampire" depicts Vandevicsny Manor, an isolated manor house that doesn't show up in any other Mystara lore.

Monsters of Note. Obviously, "Night of the Vampire" is another big vampire adventure in the spirit of I6: "Ravenloft" (1983) and its successors. This was a very appropriate choice for the wilds of Karameikos, which had taken on an Eastern European feel over the years.

You can trace that back to B10: "Night's Dark Terror" (1986), one of the earliest looks at Karameikos. It depicted villagers with Russian names avoiding their dark woods, full of not just orcs and goblins but also hidden undead and werewolves. In fact, it felt a bit like Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay (1986), and no surprise, as two of the authors of "Night's Dark Terror" coauthored that roleplaying system immediately after they wrote the first deep delve into the land of Karameikos.

Aaron Allston's GAZ1: "The Grand Duchy of Karameikos" (1987) only played this up, saying "Some evil force cursed the land with vampires, lycanthropes, and other beasts." It also introduced a new vampire, the Nosferatu.

About the Creators. Baker got his start at TSR writing for Dark Sun. But, he'd venture forth into other settings as well, including this, his only adventure for Mystara, following contributions to the original First Quest (1994).

About the Product Historian

The history of this product was researched and written by Shannon Appelcline, the editor-in-chief of RPGnet and the author of Designers & Dragons — a history of the roleplaying industry told one company at a time. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to shannon.appelcline@gmail.com.

 
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36
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1.0
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